What is Prosciutto?
Prosciutto is an Italian word for ham. In English, the term prosciutto is almost always used for a dry-cured ham that is usually sliced thinly and served uncooked; this style is called prosciutto crudo in Italian and is distinguished from cooked ham, prosciutto cotto.
Sliced prosciutto crudo in Italian cuisine is often served as an antipasto / snack, wrapped around grissini or bread along with a glass of wine. It is eaten as accompaniment to cooked spring vegetables, such as asparagus or peas or as a pizza topping. Prosciutto slices are often difficult to cut in pieces for use
in cooking, as they tend to shred and stick to one another. In this
case either using very sharp knives and carving by hand is best if you have a well made ham holder.
Prosciutto is often served in sandwiches and panini, sometimes in a variation on the Caprese Salad, with basil, tomato and fresh mozzarella. A basic sandwich served in some European cafes and bars consists of prosciutto in a croissant.
Prosciutto is one of the best known and widely used as appetizer in most
of the gourmet restaurants. It is sliced paper thin and served with
variety of foods such as cheese, pickled vegetables, smoked sausages
etc. It is commonly used as party favorite when serving wine or other
Writer on Mediterranean food Bill Buford describes talking to an old Italian butcher who says:"When I was young, there was one kind of prosciutto. It was made in the winter, by hand, and aged for two years. It was sweet when you smelled it. A profound perfume. Unmistakable. To age a prosciutto is a subtle business. If it's too warm, the aging process never begins. The meat spoils. If it's too dry, the meat is ruined. It needs to be damp but cool. The summer is too hot. In the winter—that's when you make salumi. Your prosciutto. Your soppressata. Your sausages."
Dry-cured ham originated as a meat preservation process. Through dry-curing the ham
can be stored for several months. The processing technology is based on
traditional knowledge passed from one generation to the other. The raw
materials and the ripening conditions have a significant influence on
the final texture and flavour.